Category Archives: Advice

The Dying Meaning of Compassion: Just a Line On Your Receipt?

Image by Joey Lawrence

In today’s world, everything is “fat free”. For some reason we still marry “until death do us part” though divorce rates say otherwise, and on the internet we see articles like ‘10 “Amazing” Dog Houses’ or ‘5 “Amazing” Facts About Chocolate’. Are dog houses really all that “amazing”? These words have one thing in common: they have all lost their meaning. Like “liberalist” and even “love”, their overuse and lack of appreciation takes away their specialty. 

So what about “compassion”? Media and politicians love to shove this word down the public’s throat, typically after some national disaster. 

“Show compassion, buy this shirt and some of your money will go through our agency and (maybe) go towards helping these people in need!” 

Of course this is not what they say, but this is essentially what it is. 

“America, we need to have compassion for those affected by this disaster. Send money to this fund!” 

When broken down to its Latin roots, “compassion” stands for “co-suffering”, but by today it simply means “to have a personal connection, empathy, and sympathy with those who suffer”. What many fail to realize is, although the government and charitable agencies help the needy, money alone does not reach the poverty of the soul. I believe we need to restore our original meaning of compassion and take a more personal approach to banishing issues like poverty. 

While buying a ticket at my local theatre, the cashier asked if wanted to donate a dollar to a children’s fund. I always give to these requests when possible, but being charitable in this way sparks no true compassion – no personal connection. My donation is out of sight and out of mind once I hand it over. I don’t even get to witness the fruits of my generosity. So I forget all about it, and my good deed is given nothing more than it’s own line on my receipt. Is that compassion? 

Of course, money is essential in fixing society’s issues, but giving this way seems to have one of two effects on most people. You can give your dollar and go on your way feeling like you’ve done your part, or you give your dollar and never think of it again because you see and feel no benefit – no bliss in helping others. Unfortunately, in dealing with donors on a daily basis, I know all too well how “compassion fatigued” people get when realizing their money has seemingly been thrown into a void. 

Monetary donations are good for immediate and temporary fixes, but it’s going to take the crucial role of compassionate individuals to banish these problems for good. Money is not personal, and when we individuals make no personal connection to those suffering with issues like poverty, the real solutions to these tribulations lay stagnant. 

So let’s revive the meaning of “compassion”, let’s deal intimately with poverty. If we all realize that those who are impoverished are just as human with just as deep of feelings; if we learn what we all have in common, we can start teaching the world how to react to the visible poor: not by turning a blind eye, but by reaching into the soul of poverty. 

I suggest reading this excellent article on cultivating compassion at ZenHabits. Personally my favorite practice is the “commonalities practice” (#3 in the article). In this, Leo Babauta states: 

“At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness. Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences.” 

 What do you think, readers?


 

Update…

Sorry folks for the slight delay of today’s post. I went to a cookout the actual day this post was to be done, and must have gotten food posioning because my stomach was acting in revenge for quite some time. I ended up doing a lot of reading on this particular topic of “compassion”, and wound up ordering a book titled, The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky, which seems to touch upon (in depth, of course) the dying meaning of this word. So I may have more to say on this issue once I get this book in my hands, but for now, have a great day and thanks for reading.

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Words That Stick With You

I am guilty of loving and saving an inspiring quote, but never living by it – there are so many out there! But what about those lines that find a way to latch on to you the minute you hear it? The ones that stick with you for years and years?

These sort of lines that stick with us always make life just a little bit easier to handle. Here are the words that have stuck with me, that I apply to many aspects of my life, and those things that I absolutely want to pass to my children when the time comes.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

(Dr. Seuss)

Sure this is a Dr. Seuss quote, but what made it special to me was that a cashier at a store told me this little nugget of truth when I was young. I was with my dad at the register, and I wanted to buy a teddy bear for my boyfriend, but dad was teasing me about it saying it was unnecessary. Then, after checking us out, the cashier said this to me and winked. It really stuck with me ever since.

———–

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

(Maya Angelou)

I’m not sure how I came about this quote, but it’s been written in my diary several times. It helped me to realize that, with a simple change of perspective, you can change your mindset. The mind is a powerful thing. We make our own happiness!

———–

“Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!”

(Gurren Lagann)

Gurren Lagann is an animated show filled with virility. Although it’s centered around battling and mechas, the characters live to “shoot for the stars”. It’s an idealistic and aggressive show filled with daring chutzpah to be the absolute best you can be.

———–

“It goes on.”

(Robert Frost)

Robert Frost says, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life…” I found this in my book of Robert Frost’s poetry and I have it highlighted, circled and bookmarked. And it’s true, out of all that I’ve been through, one thing has stayed true: my life has gone on.

———–

“This too shall pass.”

(Old proverb)

I first heard this line in a beautiful Regina Spektor song called “I Want to Sing”. Regina’s gotten me through a fairly large hurdle in my life, and I recommend her bubbly, jazzy music to anyone who wants a pick-me-up.

———–

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”

(Jane Austen)

While browsing for literary jewelry (yes, I’m a huge nerd), I found a necklace charm with this Jane Austen quote. I love the image of “indulging your imagination” as if it has a body and soul of its own, which sometimes I believe it does! Creativity, adventurousness, and so much more seep from imagination. It is the faculty through which we encounter everything, and what a wonderful thing it is.

———–

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

(Tyra Banks and many others)

Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It’s laced with tiny delicacies of confidence, beauty, and living your dream. In one episode, Tyra was speaking to a broken-hearted girl, on the edge of giving up her dreams because her lack of confidence. Exhausting all other options of motivating this girl, Tyra tells her to buck up and says, “Oh yeah? Well if you don’t have confidence, just pretend you do. You can fake it ’til you make it!”

———–

“Gain momentum in constant self-improvement.”

This was said by yours truly! It’s my own motto, and I live it day to day. We were all given the ability to improve ourselves, and there are limitless small and large ways to do so. So why not do it constantly? I understand the idea of simply being satisfied with who you are, but self-improvement doesn’t always have to mean changing yourself. There is always more for you to learn, more for you to experience and see, and all of this improves who you are. And once you start improving yourself, keep doing it until you gain momentum like a huge, growing, self-improving snowball!

———–

More personal ones…

  1. “Making something of yourself like I know you do?” – said to me by an old close friend
  2. “Always be an independent woman, and put your school first. No boys, no marriage, until school.” – my mom’s advice
  3. “Trust me – you don’t need rest to be beautiful.” – from my boyfriend
  4. “I like your goals. They seem reasonable and I think you can do them all.” – another from the boyfriend
  5. “You walk like a model!” – one of my favorite compliments from a stranger

All of these lines are very special to me, and I hope that sharing them would stick to some of you as well. I tried not to flood it with too many quotes… just the ones that mean the most to me!

Side note…

Many of my readers have been asking for more content, so I’m going to post smaller, easier ones like today’s while I plan out my more meatier, heavier posts. I hope these can keep you occupied and make you think while I draft up the big ones I have planned.

I’ve got an opinionated post on compassion coming up tomorrow, another “Different Perspective” post, and one later that will look into the psychology of imagination.

So keep in touch, readers! And be sure to let me know what lines and meaningful words have stuck with you throughout your life!

Photo credit: ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )

Prod Your Productivity Into Shape – 3 Tools for Effective Writing

Today, we have so many things to distract us from writing, and technology is one of them. Fifty years ago, writers didn’t have the strong allure of the internet to go flocking to when they wanted to push back their writing time. But the internet has now grown to the point where it may even be beneficial to our writing! (But only thanks to lovely, genius software engineers.)

Ever read Fahrenheit 451? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit’s author, was a pretty disciplined man. Why? Because he wrote this famed novel with haste, in 30 minute spurts on a typewriter he paid 10 cents to rent out for just a half hour. He moved in to the basement of UCLA, where he had found this typing station, with a bag of dimes – thrusting them in as the clock ticked madly – and, with this limited time, he furiously churned out the draft of this popular, classic novel. Time and money – what an amazing motivator!

I was introduced to this story and another interesting tidbit via Sarah Wilson’s blog. As it turns out, Bradbury’s writing process was the early “prototype” of a technique created in the 80’s called the Pomodoro Technique. Here is their official website.

This technique, named after those nifty little tomato shaped kitchen timers (“pomodoro” meaning “tomato” in Italian) is a time-management method and a method in self discipline.

What you do is simple:

  1. Set a timer to 25-30 minutes – If you don’t have a spiffy little tomato timer, you can use one of these online timers listed on the official Pomodoro website. (I like the simple focusbooster app where you can turn on the incessant ticking if that prods you into working!)
  2. Move those fingers and write, write, write – You’re Ray Bradbury and your time is money! Your typewriter is ticking away and you have to fit as much of your future bestselling novel, article, or manifesto into this 30 minutes as you can. Don’t check your messages, don’t get on WordPress, Facebook, anything. This is your appointed time to write. My advice? Do not edit.
  3. Break time! – Your 25-30 minutes are up. Give yourself a nice 5 minute break. (focusbooster times this for you too, which is lovely) Get some sun, limber up, grab a quick snack, surf the web, check your email. It’s your free time to do whatever and you’ve earned it.
  4. Get back in the groove, go another round – You were in queue to use the typewriter and it’s finally your turn to give it another go! Shove that dime in (turn your timer back on) and go another 25-30 minutes. Get the bulk of that article done now while you have the chance. Go, go, go!

Do this process just one more time. If you still have words seeping from your fingers and want to keep typing, you now have yourself an hour break! Catch some lunch, you writing speed demon, you’ve earned it.

If you’re done writing, that’s great! Save your draft and revel in the word-countage you cooked up in such a short amount of time.

(And you don’t have to use this just for writing. Try it out for any chore or task you need to accomplish!)

If this process is enough to get you into gear, give yourself a pat, but if you still find yourself having trouble, might I suggest a bit more… wicked writing tool as an addition?

I’m talking about Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab. Have no self-discipline? This evil invention invites (or is it “threatens”?) you to write… or die! Well, it’s not that evil, but it does claim to “put the ‘prod’ in productivity”. It is an online application based on operant conditioning, in which you choose your “punishment” for not typing after a certain amount of time. Set your word goal, choose your consequence, your grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil), and hit “Write!”

Your consequences?

  • Gentle mode gives you a pleasant little reminder that you’ve stopped typing, and tells you to continue. (It’s for your own good!)
  • Normal mode works best when your speakers are on full volume. If you stop, after some time, it plays a terrible song. Sometimes I get “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”! It quite literally scares you into writing more, and prevents you from stopping so you’ll save yourself from the ear-wrenching wickedness. (Now I’m not sure what else it plays because I get scared into working very easily by normal mode, but if you’re really disobedient and think you need a better punishment, try…)
  • Kamikaze mode. It is exactly what it sounds like. If you stop writing, your words will literally delete themselves. Terrible! Don’t let it happen. And don’t go back to edit, folks. It’ll hurt you in the long run.

This is my absolute favorite online writing tool. It’s even more thrilling to try and write in a quiet library. There’s a desktop version you can purchse for $10 if you really like it.

I love to use the Pomodoro technique and pair the focusbooster app with Dr. Wicked’s writing lab! These are three excellent tools to place on the first shelf of your writer’s toolbox.


Some thoughts…

The first time I tried this medley of productivity, I did some stream writing, and ended up with about 5500 words. I was poked and prodded to keep going, and ended up writing about topics from Kidz Bop, to my boyfriend, to dance music, to the topic of judgment, and more. I even came up with some new painting ideas and a few future plans for my blog.

The draft of this post was also written with these three tools, and I have to say, this is quite literally the fastest I’ve ever written a post. Drafting without editing is key. After your thoughts are all down, the rest of the process just zooms by.

I hope that those of you who were looking for a new productivity tool, those who get bitten by the procrastination bug, or those who just need a new way to go about writing can find some use from these three tools.

As for me, I will never write the normal way ever again! I can only cower in fear imagining Dr. Wicked’s maniacal laugh as he implements his upcoming “electric shock” mode on all those with stiff and unmoving fingers.

Hopefully he’s just kidding about that one!

photo credit: (1234)

An Exercise in Kickstarting Your Day for the Unenergetic, Unmotivated Dreamers

It’s a bright day, the natural light reveals all the outside world, and the birds are chirping. The world is alive. But you don’t know it, and you don’t care. You slouch on your couch hunched over with the blinds shut so not even a fraction of light shines through to warm your numb, expressionless face.

You have no energy to do anything today, and the meaning of “productive” has long been filed away in the deepest, forgotten crypts of your mind. So you sink into your couch, and hide behind your pillows – a false comfort – rationalizing, “Well, I deserve at least one more lazy day,” but we both know you said this yesterday.

And you know how dogs feed off their master’s energy? Max is sprawled on the recliner as if his muscles turned to jelly, looking around the room with slow, slow puppy dog eyes sighing and wondering, “When is something going to happen around here?”

You haven’t written a single word for your novel in weeks maybe months, and you stopped your small bout of exercising just short of it being consistent. Sometimes, you don’t even feel like going into work. And sometimes you just don’t.

What are you thinking? What are you feeling? You certainly aren’t thinking, “Man, what an amazing day. I feel so alive!” or “I have energy and momentum today! I want to get things done.”

But isn’t that what we should all be thinking?

What I described is a seemingly down, unmotivated, and numb human being. Someone merely existing, and not living. This was me two weeks ago.

I never thought or felt anything truly positive during those times, and I probably didn’t genuinely feel anything at all. There were so many things that I wanted to do, but I lacked motivation. I had no energy, no will, and no inner foundation of thoughts that set the base and mood for my day. But two weeks ago, I started my vacation from work with a purpose. I thought, “Okay, here’s 336 absolutely free hours of my life, what am I going to do?”

Sitting around playing video games and marathoning “Lost” was my first thought, but then the idea of using the 336 hours to do something extremely unproductive, in the biggest sense of the word, was appalling to me. I was ashamed that I had even given that notion a thought.

So what I decided is that I would use these two weeks as a sort of jolting, “Revival Retreat”. I wanted to shake my life up, I wanted to be progressive, energetic, and motivated. (Did any of those words come to mind when you pictured someone slouched on the couch in the dark?)

Of course, I know not many of you have this much free time, I am very lucky to have such a generous and flexible schedule, but I want to share the few little exercises that gave me the perfect kickstart to each day:

Now it’s your turn.

Close your blinds, make it very dark in the room, and get on your couch, your computer chair, or bed (wherever you lounge around). Now slouch over and wipe the emotion off your face, maybe even frown. Your eyes are only half open as you stare numbingly at your computer screen or television. You browse facebook for the fifth time today, and check your email for the sixth, and yet you’ve only been up for three hours.

Now a big, heavy, long sigh. Your energy is draining, and you may even yawn. What are you thinking? Can you honestly think, “It is the most gorgeous and magnificent day out today!” without feeling… weird?

While writing this, I did this exercise and the first thought that came to mind was, “Can I really finish this post in time?” It was negative right off the bat! I had to reassure myself that it was only an exercise.

Now, all of a sudden…

…you rocket yourself off the couch or chair, and make a beeline to the windows. Pull open the blinds all the way, and let the ALL the light shine in. Notice how you immediately feel better?

Your surroundings have an instant effect on your mood. (Especially light!) So now the light is shining on your face, and already you feel more energized.

Now lift up your head and straighten your back in the most perfect posture, your natural posture. Just think: You are an ancient god or goddess, and now you’re showing confidence to your people, assuring them that, yes, you can take care of things.

Channel your inner Nefertiti or your inner Julius Caesar!

Pretend that, in any moment, someone will make a bust of you to capture your confidence, brashness and boldness for years and years to come. Feeling any better? Good posture harbors more confidence. (And it doesn’t hurt to pretend you’re ancient royalty!) More about confidence and posture here.

Last, but not least, give a big, toothy, genuine smile. If it’s difficult to do, think of your favorite delicious dessert or your loved one unwrapping and freaking out over a thoughtful gift from you. Not only are you a confident ancient ruler, but now you are also charismatic, and people eat that up. Don’t worry about giving an inaugural wave or anything, because your smile alone is an instant pick-me-up. Biopsychology theorists call this “facial feedback“.

Me and my little sister.

Practice switching between these two dramatically different scenes, and try focusing on the outlook of your inner thoughts as you do so. Are they pessimistic? Optimistic? Did you feel a difference?

Any time that I find myself having an uninspired, stagnant day, I try to give myself and my surroundings a little jolt. Even if you don’t feel happy, confident, and charismatic, taking in the light, smiling, and straightening up will at least give physical cues to your mind telling it to “Get up and get going!”

photo credit (1) (2) (3,4) (5) (6)

Who, What, When, Where, and Why?: The Benefits of Asking Questions

3534516458_48e4e8595fWhat is the one thing that drives you to live a better life and helps you to progress in thought and knowledge? Albert Einstein did it, so did Oscar Wilde, Dr. King, Nietzsche…

It’s what you were encouraged to do in class and what you use in everyday situations to get you by. It’s what you do to banish confusion, protect yourself, and be all you can be.

Asking questions is the answer. Questioning everything has many benefits and zero disadvantages. While watching home videos, I saw myself as a child asking my dad every single little thing that came to mind. Of course, I had that never-ending, unsatisfiable toddler curiosity, but who says that has to go away?

“What is the hull on a ship?…What is a radiator?… What is this bug called?…  What’s the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?… Why do I have to go to school?”

2614294143_186fc3b123The answers to my questions stuck to me, and at a very young age, I already had a small bank of knowledge I was able to take into my later years.

Though it’s been proven that it is easier to learn at a younger age, it doesn’t mean that you should give up as you get older.

Surely there has to be something you come across every single day that you are confused about or are interested in.

On the first day of class, my Statistics professor told us flatly,

“I will not guide you through these problems unless you show the drive to want to know. Ask me questions… even when the slightest tinge of confusion pops into your head.”

It makes sense, what he said. If you have the resources and need to know something, why not just ask?

Asking questions:

  • fosters your creativity
  • foster critical thinking skills
  • can help you advance in your field
  • increases your knowledge and aids your memory
  • can help you discover new ideas and information
  • can help you make better decisions
  • and can help you to identify the unknown

Be Careful!

Besides the benefit of learning whatever you want whenever you want, asking questions is a tool we all have in our arsenal to protect ourselves from false claims.

bias_cartoon

Don’t believe everything that’s fed to you without first questioning it. Any one – and I mean anyone – has the ability to alter stories to however they see fit.

I’m not saying everyone does this, but you should be open to the possibility that it can happen, and does happen, and it can severely alter the way a large number of people think, act, and even live, which leads to greater problems.

It doesn’t just happen in the news. Commercials have been known to give false claims, businesses give false claims, magazines, product labels, and even advertising on anything should be questioned.

We can’t always tell what’s true, but here’s what we can do:

label-magnify

  • Always be skeptical about new products, stories, and statistics that haven’t had much time to be researched and analyzed.
  • Know that anyone can be biased or can give out false information.
  • If any statistics or claims have been made, look for a quoted source.
  • Do your own research. My doctor never told me that my medication would sometimes cause me to sleep eat, and it was only after doing some searching online that I found out that this is a fairly common symptom!
  • Search for reviews of the product in question or essays and articles of the topic in question. People post reviews of everything on line, from books on Amazon to laptops on Cnet.
  • There are also official statistic websites on many products and services, which display actual results and if products claim to do what they say they do.
  • You don’t have to question literally everything, but you should lay some standards on what or who you feel you can trust and what you feel you should question.
  • Of course, there are standard administrations like the FDA that help filter claims, but even administrations like this can be bypassed. Every month, there are recalled products found to be some kind of danger to consumers or found to give false claims.
  • It may take a while, but doing research will help you to identify a trusted source in the field of the topic you are researching.

And to close, here’s a small, but handy resource I use daily for those random questions that pop in my head from time to time!

chacha.preview

ChaCha answers any questions you send to them (#242242) via text message (or a phone call). It’s a free service, and you can ask for literally anything. You may have seen a similar service,  KGB, on commercials, but this service does cost you.

You can ask for the nearest and cheapest  gas station or you can ask them to send you a joke. ChaCha will help you to name your pets, and even look something up online for you when you don’t have internet!

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

I know it’s been a while, readers. School has started up again, and my schedule is as busy as ever. I’ve always dreamed of keeping this blog up to date every week with long and intricate posts, but I realized that it’s better to have sporadic small posts with bigger posts in between than no posts at all! So I’m going to stop trying to be a “perfectionist” and at least get some content out to you!

photo credit: Marco Belluci | kretyan
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Learning of Life From Death

Given the recent deaths of many known faces, I felt it necessary to remind us of what we can learn from our inevitable fates. Death is a scary subject, but why? The thought of one day losing your loved ones or embarking from your present life may sit in your stomach like a stone and send chills though your nerves.

You may not be here tomorrow. Anyone you interact with and see on a daily basis may not be here tomorrow. It is fact that many people living now will not be around the next day.

After the initial shock of fully realizing my own mortality, I have been teaching myself not to fear death. It is painfully difficult to accept, but I feel we must in order to appreciate life – and the word’s very meaning – wholly.

We are extremely lucky to be able to experience this complex array of emotions from love to hate to generosity and jealousy. As William Faulkner once said,

“Between grief and nothing I will take grief”

To be able to meet unique people of different colors and personalities, to see all the wonders and horrors we see, to even be given a chance at love and even loss is far greater than not to be able to experience it at all.

Your most valuable thing is not your house, your car, your mother’s ring, or even your children. Your most valuable thing is your life. Everything you know, love, and cherish falls under this. So instead of wasting your most valuable thing worrying about the inevitable, focus on how great it is to even have it at all!

Cherishing Life Now

If you’ve been taking your life for granted in the past, it’s not too late. I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes and that you should start exercising more, but I do highly recommend these things. However, living a healthy lifestyle is a separate topic plastered all over the internet already.

What I want to give you are some small, non-conventional ways for you to begin or to continue cherishing your life and focusing on the journey and not the final destination.

Laugh at Life
Laughing is a good medicine and great comedy keeps your mind down to Earth and in the present.

  • Find a new comedian that you like (there are many out there!) and share them with your friends.
  • Go to local comedy shows.

Be Silly and Have Fun
Life doesn’t have to be serious 24/7. You can do whatever you want with your most valuable possession so have fun with it.

  • Write fake journal entries about crazy adventures you went on and the people you met.
  • Mute the television and do voice-overs with your friends.
  • For a day, dress as someone different, take a new identity, and visit a town where no one knows you.

Observe and Appreciate Beauty

  • Sit in a public place and observe your surroundings. What kinds of people do you see? What are their lives like? What are they feeling?
  • Notice different types of architecture, different color palettes in art, and how much work and thought was put into everything you see.
  • Read up on the history of technology, art, or the country you live in. See how far we’ve come in such a short time. We’re still advancing.

Ask Why
Questioning the world around you can create appreciation for what is already here.

  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Why do we work?
  • Why do we take photographs?
  • Why do we celebrate?

Appreciate Yourself

  • Find your identity and what makes you you.
  • Take dozens of pictures of yourself doing anything anywhere and everywhere for a day. Don’t delete any of them and pick out only something you like in each.
  • This may seem morbid, but write an obituary for yourself stating your accomplishments. This can help you realize how much you’ve done already and what you want to do in the future.
  • Interview your friends and family and ask them what their favorite trait of yours is.

Other Ways

  • Celebrate anything – big or small- like reaching a goal, getting a day off, making it to Friday, or just a nice and sunny day.
  • Talk to people. We humans share the same world so share your life experiences. Have a conversation about anything, and dig deeper than the norm. Ask for their opinion, tell them what you know, and keep it flowing. The world is filled with endless conversation topics.
  • Treat others as if they will be gone tomorrow. It is possible and unpredictable, so watch what you do and say and how you treat people and do not do anything you feel you will regret.
  • Take in life through all five senses. Our senses are the doors we use to take in life as it is so take advantage of them and experience as many smells, feels, tastes, sights, and sounds as you can!
photo credit: allyaubry | 23am | L. Marie | EdenPictures
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Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

I’m one known to think too much about matters I shouldn’t burden myself with. I tend to have a lot on my mind and it becomes overwhelming!

What my boyfriend suggested to me was some stream of conscious writing. I was confused. I did this type of writing every morning for my Creative Writing class in high school and it never really helped me. But in class I realized we had a time limit and were sometimes told what to write about. So what happens when we don’t have these limits?In today’s post, I’ll be touching on:

  • What stream of consciousness writing is and how to do it!

What is it? And what is it good for?

Stream of conscious writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for?

  • those who are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • those who seem to have one problem after the other
  • those who have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • those who are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • those with writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • those who want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write. Write. Write. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about what I should do and how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

photo credit: CreativeArtistry | ntxpeach68 | darkmatte
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